Monday, June 11, 2012
Matt Jordan from Bonnaroo: Rainy Sunday drives home bittersweet end to 2012 festival
Bonnaroo got its first rainfall very early on Sunday morning. Some people were happy because that meant less dust; others were upset at the inevitable mud pits that would form. For me the sour weather just drove home the bittersweet quality to Bonnaroo’s end.
I knew I had to check out Here We Go Magic’s recent live show after their release of their new album. There’s nothing like a new LP to give a group a shot in the arm. They were even better than the last time I caught them, joking with the audience between songs.
One of the festival’s biggest surprises for me was how good GROUPLOVE are live. I enjoyed their last album Never Trust a Happy Song, but didn’t expect them to be the whirlwind of fun that they are in concert. Their guitarist and bassist bopped around the stage like little kids on a sugar rush, often intentionally throwing themselves. I wish I could have stayed to watch their entire set, but I had more bands to see. If GROUPLOVE are ever in your area, do whatever it takes to see them.
If you’re opposed to nostalgia acts, you probably didn’t enjoy the Beach Boys’ set too much. But for those open to the idea of seeing the forefathers or pop perform once again, this set proved to be more than just a cash grab. The original members had a larger backing band expanding their sound (a must for such instrument-diverse songs as “Heroes and Villans”), but still kicked in their own sonic contributions. If you closed your eyes for a minute you might have been able to trick yourself into thinking you were catching the group in the mid-60s.
Now, the Ben Folds Five tour is a reunion act that I’m behind 100%. Believe it or not, I’ve never seen Ben Folds live before. So when the opportunity arose to see him with the group that launched his career, I was completely on board. The trio (yup, the name’s a joke) seemed like no time had passed since their breakup both in the quality of their show and in their chemistry together.
The Joy Formidable were another great surprise of the festival. I’d heard good things about their show, but nothing very specific. Well, allow me to be specific. This trio are a hard riffing, exciting act that will put your energy to shame. Their lead vocalist is tiny Ritzy Bryan, a whirling dervish of guitar skills. She throws herself around stage between howling out lyrics.
I’ve been told the Shins are a so-so live act, but I’ve got to disagree. They do nearly-perfect recreations their studio work — some of the best pop made in the last decade — and have a great time doing it. Their setlist had a great number of old songs, including the 2001 b-side, “Sphagnum Esplanade.” Great fan treat.
You can read Matt Jordan’s previous dispatches from Bonnaroo below: